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Netscape up on deals, COO

The Net company's shares jump as Wall Street reacts positively to e-commerce plans and a new executive.

Netscape Communications' stock jumped nearly 25 percent today as Wall Street reacted positively to several announcements by--and much speculation about--the Internet software company.

The company named a new chief operating officer and unveiled a new e-commerce deal with a business unit of Ford Motor.

Netscape shares gained 6.125 to close at 31.1875 on the news, even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index retreated. (See related story)

The stock spike occurred as industry observers look for possible ripple effects across the Internet sector when GeoCities launches its initial public offering tomorrow. The online community raised its share price today on investor demand and expects to raise $80.75 million.

Netscape announced yesterday that it had tapped former Oracle executive Barry Ariko to help bolster its software sales operations, among other reasons.

Also, as previously reported, analysts are confident that Netscape will report solid third-quarter earnings when it releases its financial data next week. Much of the optimism can be attributed to the fact that many technology companies have warned of earnings shortfalls this quarter, while Netscape has not even hinted at weak results.

The company is expected to post a loss of 2 cents a share, according to First Call.

Rumors about a Netscape alliance with Citicorp also swirled around Wall Street today, helping to fuel the stock's uptick.

The company's shares were the most actively traded on Nasdaq today, with more than 17 million shares trading hands. The shares have traded as high as 44.625 and as low as 14.875 during the past 52 weeks.

Like many Internet stocks, Netscape has been down significantly since peaking in July.